What does Scene 7 of Act I reinforce about Lady Macbeth's character in Macbeth?

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The closing scene of the first act reflect Lady Macbeth's strength and will.  She demonstrates herself to be someone of a steel- like stature, a very pragmatic and calculating character.  She understands the opportunity that is in front of both she and her husband.  She grasps the "urgency of now."  She also understands that she needs to ensure that her husband can go through with the designed plan.  In this, she ensures that Macbeth go ahead with the plan by questioning his manhood.  Lady Macbeth knows very well that a soldier like Macbeth would not sit still while his manliness is questioned.  She plants these seeds of questioning quite deliberately and well:

What beast was't then
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man;(55)
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man.

The idea of being "so much more the man" is designed to attack at Macbeth's sense of self, something that she knows will be the ultimate motivator if the promise of power and prestige are not able to motivate her husband.  Earlier in the scene, Macbeth expresses a sense of ambivalence about the murder of Duncan because of the loyalty he has shown to Macbeth, and expresses a desire to "not bite the hand that feeds."   Lady Macbeth recognizes this and seizes upon this weakness to motivate him:

Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valor
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that(45)
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would”
Like the poor cat i’ the adage.

Here again, the idea of "afeard" or "afraid" is brought out.  Additionally, she appeals to the idea that Macbeth wishes to be a particular conception of man or manhood, something that is reflective of his skill on the battlefield. In order to "be this man," she suggests that he has to go through with the plan.  In this scene, she shows herself to be an extremely shrewd judge of character.

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question